Czech President Petr Pavel expects “significant developments” in Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine next year — and these are not likely to be favorable to Kyiv, he said.
In an interview with Czech online news outlet Seznam Zprávy, Pavel was asked about his profile in POLITICO’s annual ranking of the most powerful people in Europe, in which he was described as a “hawk when it comes to both Russia and China” who fully supports Ukraine as well as further NATO expansion.
Asked about his expectations on those issues for the upcoming year, Pavel said: “We have a lot ahead of us, because the development of the conflict in Ukraine shows that we are very likely to see some significant developments next year.
“And the indications so far are that it will not be in the best sense of the word, as we would like it to be,” the president warned in an interview published Monday, asserting there would be “a new situation that we will have to deal with.”
The comments from the Czech president — who is a former general, senior NATO leader and staunch Ukraine supporter — come at a challenging time for Kyiv.
By Ukrainian officials’ own admission, Kyiv’s counteroffensive to fight off Moscow’s invasion has progressed more slowly than hoped for. Now, as winter approaches, positions on the battlefield are set to remain entrenched for the next few months.
In the meantime, Kyiv is scrambling to maintain support from its allies.
But in Europe, reinvigorated opposition from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is threatening to derail a crucial €50 billion aid package. In the U.S., plans to provide further aid for Kyiv have been stalled for weeks due to opposition from Republican lawmakers.
The U.S. is also headed for an uncertain presidential election next year, which will influence what happens in Ukraine, Pavel said in the interview.
“The anticipation of the elections will also bring about certain changes on the battlefield,” the Czech president explained, because Putin has said he considers the U.S. as the only “partner for possible negotiations,” which can only happen after the elections.
“On Vladimir Putin’s side, there is an expectation that if Donald Trump succeeds, he would be able to get along with him regardless of what Ukraine or the rest of Europe thinks, and … return Russia to the status of a key player,” Pavel said.
More from … Nicolas Camut